It’s Low New Vinyl Thursday at The Vinyl Underground at 7th Heaven. Check out this week’s list of new vinyl arrivals:
311- Mardi Gras 2020
Aesop Rock- Appleseed
Aesop Rock’s first album Appleseed was released in 1999, at a time when mystique could thrive on the internet. Photographic evidence was still not always easy to upload, so we didn’t even know what some often-discussed albums looked like until much later. Times and technology have indeed changed, and now we finally have a reissue of Appleseed. (On vinyl for the first time!)
Aesop Rock opens the record with “I recall the first time I bumped head with my head,” and it becomes clear that he’s a different kind of lyricist. He’s playful with language but seems serious, maybe like MF Doom minus all the characters? From a kid’s perspective in the midwest, Appleseed seemed like part of a new (cerebral?) hip-hop movement in New York City that included groups like Cannibal Ox, Company Flow, and maybe even Antipop Consortium.
Appleseed was primarily self-produced, with tracks that both swing and disorient. Throwing samples of everything in the mix, from Ornette Coleman to moody synthesizer loops and Bollywood soundtracks, the tracks mirror Aesop Rock’s everything-including-the-kitchen-sink approach to lyricism that gained him notoriety a couple of years ago as having the most extensive vocabulary in hip-hop.
Appleseed gave listeners a pretty good indication of what was to come. The mini-album predicts so much in Aesop Rock’s sound and is difficult to listen to without thinking about the cadences and production he and his producer develop. Sure, he would build upon some of these cadences and rhyme schemes on the albums that would follow, but this album is a good listen in its own right. And a vinyl reissue gives new listeners an excellent starting point: the beginning.- Jonathon Smith
Amy Grant- Heart In Motion
Has it really been 30 years ago? Not just since this album was released, but also when the vinyl format was dying and CDs were promulgating their future reign. 1991 saw a shift in music formats, as well as Amy Grant’s career. “Heart In Motion”, originally released March 5th, 1991, was Amy’s 9th studio album release, and was made available mainly via CD & sparsely on vinyl LP. It yielded 5 Top 20 singles, 2 No. 1 hits, and went on to sell 5 million copies in the U.S. alone. All of this culminated in an “Album Of The Year” nomination at the Grammy’s, a number 10 peak-spot on the U.S. Billboard 200, and number 1 on the Christian Album Chart for 32 weeks.
This album was HUGE! It was a cross-over sensation. And I’m willing to bet not even Ms. Grant was prepared for the stardom she achieved with this personal and uncharacteristic foray in “secular” music.
So here we are, 30 years later, celebrating a very well deserved gem of a Pop album, delivered in a 2LP vinyl format allowing for more dynamic range and fidelity.
Track 2 and lead-off single, “Baby, Baby”, still holds up with an infectious hook & groove. Amy’s ode to her then newborn daughter bare’s the album’s title, “Heart In Motion” and captures the overall spirit of the album’s content. However, there are some other, more darker life issues confronted by songs “Ask Me” and “How Can We See That Far”. Yet, for the most part, other songs entitled “Every Heartbeat”, “That’s What Love Is For”, and “I Will Remember You”, as well as the rest of the album comprise a feel-good celebration of what IS good, and Amy Grant certainly delivers the message with sincerity and devotion.
It’s an honest album. One shouldn’t feel any shame in adding this 30th Anniversary edition to their vinyl collection. If it’s “Good For Me”, it’s good for you. ~ David Lombardo
Amyl and The Sniffers- Amyl and the Sniffers
Bill Evans- Bill Evans – Trio ’64 (Verve Acoustic Sounds Series)
Bob Dylan- Greatest Hits
Booker T & Mg’s- The Complete Stax Singles Vol. 1 (1962-1967)
Booker T & Mg’s- The Complete Stax Singles Vol. 2 (1968-1974)
Cee Lo Green- The Lady Killer
After a decade in the underground with the Atlanta rap group Goodie Mob, scores of guest features and two enjoyable solo albums that flew under the radar, singer and rapper Cee Lo Green finally received the big hit and accompanying mainstream media attention he craved as a solo artist.
The shadow of “F-k You,” known in censored circles as “Forget You,” looms large over The Lady Killer, Green’s third solo album and his first since pairing with DJ Danger Mouse in Gnarls Barkley. After a spoken word intro morphs into a supercharged James Bond theme. This, in turn, leads into the infectious dance track “Bright Lights, Bigger City.” The sweeping string section, pulsating synthesizers and Green’s larger-than-life vocals make experiencing the song akin to watching a big-budget action movie.
After the big single, The Lady Killer rolls through another 10 songs that rarely flag in energy or performance. It’s obvious Green obsessed over a pile of Earth, Wind and Fire albums growing up, so it is fitting that EWF frontman Phillip Bailey guest on “Fool for You.” Lauren Bennett does her best Shirley Bassey impression on the duet “Love Gun.” Other songs echo the influence of Motown, funk and gospel. Whatever Green’s approach, it all adds up to one underlying constant on The Lady Killer: fun.- Joel Francis
Cheap Trick- In Another World
Chrissie Hynde- Standing In The Doorway: Chrissie Hynde Sings Bob Dylan
Cigarettes After Sex- Cigarettes After Sex
Digital Underground- This is an E.P. Release
Duke Jordan- Flight to Denmark
Electric Chairs- The Electric Chairs
Funkadelic- Tales of Kidd Funkadelic
Gil Scott-Heron- Pieces of a Man
Gorillaz- Song Machine, Season One
Halsey- If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power
Heartless Bastards- A Beautiful Life
Holly Golightly- Medicine County
Horace Silver- Horace Silver Quintet
Iron Maiden- Senjutsu
James McMurtry- The Horses and the Hounds
Jimmy Smith- Groovin’ At Smalls Paradise
John Mayer- Sob Rock
John Prine- Storm Windows
Kacey Musgraves – Star-Crossed (Surprise Color Vinyl)
Kenny Garrett- Sounds From The Ancestors
King’s X- Out of the Silent Planet
Laura Jane Grace- Stay Alive
Laura Nyro- American Dreamer
Low- HEY WHAT
Madlib- Sound Ancestors
The umpteenth album from the prolific, California-based producer, DJ and rapper Madlib is a collaboration with Kieran Hebden. Better known as Four Tet, Hebden’s glitchy, electronic fingerprints are all over these 16 tracks.
The single “Hopprock” is demonstrative of both Madlib and Four Tet’s strengths. A soothing cello plays under the sound of running water as random voicemail messages gradually overwhelms the track before giving way to a basic percussion pattern accented with muted guitar and apparitional voices. The result is something that could easy accommodate an MC’s flow or serve as a stand-alone sound collage.
Compiled and arranged by Hebden from tracks Madlib passed along over the past two years, Sound Ancestors moves from primitive African instruments to psychedelic rock and snippets of Snoop Dogg to field recordings of children singing. Hebden’s deft hand makes these desperate sources crackle with vibrancy as one coherent statement. The result is an album that sounds like a homage to what’s been created while pointing the way forward.- Joel Francis
Modest Mouse- The Golden Casket
My Chemical Romance- Life On The Murder Scene
O.V. Wright- A Nickel and a Nail and Ace of Spades
Overshadowed in his hometown of Memphis by Otis Redding and label-mate Al Green, and outshined on the charts by Levi Stubbs and a host of other Southern soul shouters, O.V. Wright is the greatest soul singer you’ve never heard.
Released in 1971, A Nickel and a Nail and Ace of Spades is Wright’s fourth album and the first of three stone classic albums he released consecutively in the 1970s. Wright is joined on the album by the Hi Rhythm Section and the Memphis Horns, the same musicians who backed Green on most of his best material.
While Green’s voice is smooth, sensual and laid back, Wright’s is more bluesy, earthy and intense. Wright is desperate and pleading on opening cut “Don’t Let My Baby Ride” before shifting to gospel on “Born All Over.” “Ace of Spades,” the third track, shows yet another side of Wright’s abilities as he issues a stern warning to his lover against a hard-charging funk arrangement.
The cover of A Nickel and a Nail and Ace of Spades makes the album look like a low-budget bootleg, but don’t be fooled. This is high quality Southern soul and belongs in any collection alongside Daptone and Colemine revival efforts.- Joel Francis
Olivia Rodrigo- Sour
Paul Bley- Live Again
Pharoah Sanders- Rejoice
Place to Bury Strangers- Hologram
Prince- Welcome 2 America
Queen Latifah- All Hail the Queen
Before she was known as an Oscar-nominated actress or talk show host, Queen Latifah was a rapper, and a darn good one at that. On her 1989 debut album, All Hail the Queen, Latifah aligned herself with the positive-minded, Afrocentric nature of the Native Tongues movement through collaborations with De La Soul and KRS-One.
Lead single and first cut “Dance For Me” sets the stage but the follow-up single “Ladies First” is where the album really took off. A duet with Monie Love, “Ladies First” is a feminist anthem that easily stands alongside other hard-hitting tracks of the era from Public Enemy and Eric B. and Rakim.
Other stand-out songs include “Wrath of My Madness” (later remixed by DJ Premier) and “Queen of Royal Badness.” Production from Prince Paul, Mark the 45 and Daddy-O ensure the music is just as on-point as Latifah’s rhymes.
From Lauryn Hill and Missy Elliott to Nicki Minaj and Noname, the lineage of strong female rappers can be traced straight back to Latifah and All Hail the Queen. More than 30 years after its release, All Hail the Queen remains an essential addition for any hip-hop heads.- Joel Francis
Queen- Greatest Hits I
Richard Thompson- Mirror Blue
Guitar god and songwriting legend Richard Thompson’s seventh album was not well-received when it finally came out after a year-long delay in early 1994. Nearly 30 years later, the very element that made the album so disappointing at the time – the production – is why Mirror Blue is so intriguing today.
Buoyed by his Grammy-winning success with producer Mitchell Froom on his previous album, and inspired by Froom’s distinctive work with Susanne Vega and Los Lobos, Thompson employed even more experimental production on Mirror Blue. The most galling (or appealing) aspect lies in Pete Thomas’ drums. Thomas, a member of Elvis Costello’s Attractions, fluctuates in the mix. Sometimes his drums are dense, while in other places they are pushed so far into the background to be almost non-existent. A sudden – and very flat – splash of Thomas’ cymbal reminds you he’s there. Rather than using Thomas as a mere timekeeper, Froom and Thompson regard him as another texture to be applied to the songs.
The production never overshadows Thompson’s always stellar songwriting. “MGB-GT” is a fiddle-driven paean to a sports car. On “Mingus Eyes,” Thompson namechecks James Dean and Stanislavsky. Any hint of pretension, however, is wiped out by the tongue-in-cheek “Fast Food.” The heartbreaking “Taking My Business Elsewhere,” a portrait of a man who waits for a woman who never shows up, is one of Thompson’s most evocative songs. The best of the bunch is “Beeswing,” a beautiful folk ballad that also earned the name of Thompson’s recent memoir.- Joel Francis
Ron Henderson- Hooked On Your Love: Rare Tracks
Shinedown- Leave a Whisper
Sierra Ferrell- Long Time Coming
Skid Row- Skid Row
Skid Row debuted at the tail end of the golden age of hair metal and typified the sound of the times with songs aggressive enough to appeal to the boys, but with sweeping pop hooks that drew the ladies.
Released January, 1989, Skid Row featured three singles that received a lot of airplay – on both radio and MTV – at the time and have stuck around in pop culture as nostalgic favorites as well. Those three songs, “Youth Gone Wild,” “18 and Life” and “I Remember You,” will be a big reason why people pick up this new reissue, but there are some solid album tracks that complement the singles well.
Sebastian Bach’s theatric vocals are a big reason why Skid Row works so well, but the wailing guitars of Dave Sabo and Scotti Hill and songwriting and arrangements from bassist Rachel Bolan give Bach plenty of tough backing to work from.
This self-titled debut is very much of it’s time and likely won’t win many new fans 30 years later, but it holds up well and will conjure fond memories for those who wore out their hair metal cassettes back in the day.- Joel Francis
Snoop Dogg- The Last Meal
Son Volt- Straightaways
Frontman, guitarist and songwriter Jay Farrar walked away from beloved alt-country pioneers Uncle Tupelo and delivered the best album of his career with Son Volt’s debut, Trace. Straightaways had the difficult task of following that masterpiece and couldn’t help but look slight in comparison.
In fact, the elements of Straightaways that were labeled as shortcomings when the album was released, nearly 25 years ago now contribute to its charm. Straightaways doesn’t mine any new sounds or bring anything fresh to Farrar’s songwriting. None of the songs reach out and grab the listener they way so many classics did on Trace.
Because the songs on Straightaways are less immediate, they are more likely to marinate on the soul and seep in slower, yes, but also deeper. And by continuing the same approach to his material, Farar reveals in his craft the way he can project similar topics from different angles and approaches.
Aside from Farrar’s distinctive delivery, the real hero that makes Straightaways shine is Dave Boquist. From lap steel and fiddle to banjo and guitars, Boquist provides the shading, atmosphere and nuance to Farrar’s songs that invites repeated listening and allows the songs to creep in.
Measuring any of Son Volt’s albums against Trace is a fool’s errand and misses the point. Straightaways is an enjoyable album for anyone who appreciates the No Depression movement from one of its strongest leaders.- Joel Francis
Sturgill Simpson- High Top Mountain
The Black Keys- Delta Kream
The Brian Jonestown Massacre- Take It from the Man
The Rolling Stones- Goats Head Soup
The Verve- Urban Hymns
The Weeknd- After Hours
Thelonious Monk- Alone In San Francisco + Bonus Tracks
Thelonious Monk- Genius of Modern Music 2
Tom Petty- Wildflowers & All The Rest
Tomorrow’s People- Open Soul
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Turntables! We got ’em. From starter tables to audiophile, and everything in between, we have you covered. We are honored to once again be carrying a full line up of the award winning, top of their class, made in America, U-turn Orbits! We have all the colors- including the high performance walnut and maple. Get here fast for best selection. Get yours today!
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Enjoy the music and we will see you soon. Your loving Vinyl Underground at 7th Heaven staff:
Sherman, Gordon, Cat, Matt, Dylan, Doyle, Heather, Dave and Max
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